Winterwell is a camping festival in the Cotswolds and has steadily grown in size for the last 4 years. As well as the usual features that might be expected of a summer festival – music, mud, alcohol etc. – there’s also a strong tradition of thematic “subversive theatre” and gaming. The theme for 2011 was “boardgames”.

As part of a larger immersive narrative orchestrated by The Tom Sawyer Effect, we ran an experimental team-based challenge deep in the nearby woods. Our game, the mood-setter, was something of an Eighties-child homage to classic quest shows like Knightmare, Crystal Maze and The Adventure Game, with perhaps also a smidgen of Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade thrown in for good measure. As we hoped, when we explained the rules to the participants they responded with a mix of glassy-eyed nostalgia and childish enthusiasm.

We used our prototype wireless video transmitter-receiver unit (a proof of concept model from an ongoing project) and integrated walkie-talkies as a bridge between the participants and their team-mates. The player wore a helmet that blocked their vision, but the mounted camera gave their friends a first-person-view of the environment.

Team-mates instructed the player around a puzzle maze in the shape of The Royal Game of Ur (the oldest known board game), matching clues with what they saw through the screen.



Winterwell Festival

The Tom Sawyer Effect – Event organiser

The Playable City
Marks and Spencer
Design Museum
Unbox Festival
Wilfred Bagshaw
La Gaite Lyrique
Screen shot 2012-09-23 at 18.44.31
The Law Society
Marks & Spencer
Screen shot 2012-03-05 at 10.33.42
Pan Project
British Council
Tom Sawyer Effect
Open Draw
Immersive Reading Room
Hodder & Stoughton
The Experience Value of Risk
Anti-Design Festival